…then we’re in trouble. Found through a google news search, this is one of the top articles on art therapy.
Let us distinguish art therapy from art expression…or simply, blowing off some stream through art making. As awareness of our profession increases, I’d expect that the misuse of the term art therapy will increase as well, which is why it’s important to stay firmly rooted in the definition of what art therapy is.
Art therapy is not only about self expression. It’s about understanding and working with one or several paradigms rooted in psychological theory, and then integrating those paradigms with:
From the AATA website: Art therapy is a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages. It is based on the belief that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight.
Writing profane words over a picture can be art therapy. But, a group of people spontaneously using photoshop to insult or make a political statement is just that—art making for the sake of insult and statement making. Yes, it’s a form of self expression, but that is not art therapy.
As professionals we need to stay true to the definition of what we do. Otherwise every rude and over-the-top form of self expression will be confused for the delicate, difficult and enlightening work that is art therapy.